While it isn’t a secret that prescription drug prices continue to rise, it is largely unknown what the actual cost, including the devastating costs when medications are used incorrectly, are in America. According to a recent study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, Researchers at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego estimate that illness and death resulting from non-optimized medication therapy costs $528.4 billion annually. Dr. Andrew Traynor of Concordia University Wisconsin is on a mission to build awareness of the problem, and unite Wisconsin’s health care community to create better patient outcomes at a lower cost.

Andrew Traynor, Pharm.D., BCPS, professor and chair of pharmacy practice at CUW’s School of Pharmacy, has witnessed the success of Comprehensive Medication Management (CMM) through his own practice and the practice of other pharmacists.

According to the CMM in Primary Care Research Team, “CMM is a patient-centered approach to optimizing medication use and improving patient health outcomes that is delivered by a clinical pharmacist working in collaboration with the patient and other health care providers.”

Under this approach, pharmacists work with the patient and health care team to ensure there is a need for each medication, the medication works properly, the medication is safe and the patient is able to take the medication and be adherent to the plan.  The result is an individualized medication therapy care plan and continued follow-up to help patients meet their goals of therapy.

With financial support from The Dohmen Company, Traynor enlisted the help from his colleagues from CUW’s School of Pharmacy, the Batterman School of Business, and the Alliance for Integrated Medication Management to launch the Concordia Medication Management Accelerator (CMMA) in spring 2017. Their efforts, and the enthusiasm of the health care community throughout the state of Wisconsin, will be realized at a final performance story showcase event on November 16.

CMMA is an 18-month initiative to integrate CMM into primary care services across the Wisconsin health care system. CMMA intends to surface effective CMM programs and foster sustainability by working with organizations to fully develop ideas, propose them to stakeholders and use implementation science, coaching and resources to make them a reality.

The initial launch in 2017 attracted more than 60 people from 28 organizations. Out of the launch, 13 teams formalized and completed the intensive business model canvas program that included monthly coaching and quarterly check-ins. They presented at a shark-tank pitch event last November with monetary awards given to the best pitches.

From there, teams launched into an implementation phase where they focused on implementation with continued coaching, learning and sharing sessions.  With less than a month to go, the remaining teams are preparing for their final performance story showcase. Traynor anticipates that the teams formed because of CMMA will continue to make a significant impact long after the competition ends.

“A good idea becomes a better idea when people talk, and we all know that actions speak louder than words” says Traynor. “Participating in a collaborative program like CMMA provides the stimulus and accountability to make ideas reality. At the final event, we’re going to celebrate the accomplishments of a bunch of talented, caring people who worked really hard to make Wisconsin a better, healthier place through appropriate medication use.”

The teams presenting come from large health systems, rural critical access hospitals, independent pharmacies and individual entrepreneurs. They practice in urban Milwaukee, north-central Wisconsin, and south-central Wisconsin. They’re tackling a wide range of issues from effective diabetes management to better medication adherence to refugee health to shortening the wait time to see primary care providers. While the challenges and results vary, each interdisciplinary team brings a sincere desire to make thing better.

Traynor’s desire to bring together different voices from a variety of medical care facilities, representing a number of disciplines to solve problems can be traced back to his youth. In rural Plum City, Wisconsin, Traynor recounts that the town’s hospital closed in the early 1970s, the lone pharmacist closed shop in the late 1970s, and the only primary care physician passed away in the early 1990s. The residents needed to drive a couple towns down the road for medical care. As a young man, he recognized that the disconnect between a patient and providers created gaps in the quality of life for many in his small town.

As a junior in high school, Traynor, who had an aptitude for science and math, was invited by a family friend to job shadow at a hospital pharmacy in Wabasha, Minnesota.  Traynor was fascinated with how Dr. Kurt Henn engaged with the community and got to know his patients personally. After a day of observing how profoundly this pharmacist helped his patients live better lives, Traynor knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“Medications are so commonly utilized in medical care and pharmacists can play such an important role in how people feel,” says Traynor. “I wanted the knowledge and ability to help people live better through medications so that they could achieve their life goals.”

He studied pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, where he met his wife, Laura, who was also studying pharmacy. Throughout school and his early career, Traynor had been exposed to the concept of pharmaceutical care, a precursor to CMM. As a practitioner, even in an urban environment where patients don’t travel far and providers work in close proximity, he witnessed disconnects between the providers’ intent and the patients’ outcomes.

As a result, he has made it his career objectives to create CMM practices and empower others to do the same.  At the heart of all this is still the small-town personal care that had lured him into this vocation in the first place.  When he and Laura, also a faculty member and pharmacist providing CMM, relocated to Concordia in 2010 to help start the School of Pharmacy, Traynor was determined to pass that same desire for addressing gaps and improving lives on to his students.  Pharmaceutical care, CMM, and servant leadership have been critical focal points of the curriculum since the school’s inception.

“When you look at what is going on in health care related to medications and their impact on individuals, CMM is a compelling and intuitive answer,” says Traynor. “Because of the power of medications people can be healthier and happier. But, that power works both ways. Medications can also cause severe negative outcomes when used incorrectly. When pharmacists work collaboratively with a health care team using this process and our advanced medication knowledge, we significantly improve outcomes and provide better, more sustainable patient care.”

Regardless of which team wins the competition, Traynor looks forward to the impact that the CMMA initiative will have on the quality of life in Wisconsin.

The final pitch event on November 16th is free and open to the public. Please visit here for more information and to register.

For more information about CMMA visit here.

— Lisa Liljegren is vice president of marketing and strategic communications.

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